When it comes to tenacity, the Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company certainly shares DNA with its namesake. Hogan’s rise from last year's bankruptcy may not be as dramatic as the Hawk winning the 1950 U.S. Open after his run-in with a Greyhound, but it’s stunning nonetheless. The new Factory Direct model unveiled last summer appears to have put Hogan on stable financial ground.
We’ve seen signs of that newfound stability over the past several months. Tour veteran J.J. Henry and 1996 PGA Championship winner Mark Books - both former Hogan staffers - signed endorsement contracts in January. While neither player is what you'd call a needle-mover, they do give Hogan presence on both the PGA and Champion Tours, and being Fort Worth residents, both are involved in Hogan's new product development.
The next step in Hogan's rise from the crypt would be, of course, new product. That's exactly what we're getting today as Hogan is introducing its first new club in nearly two years: the Hogan Equalizer wedge.
Short & Sweet
Right up until the original Hogan company was mothballed by Callaway in 2008, the club following the 9-iron was labeled E for Equalizer. Legend has it Hogan’s Pitching Wedge was such an effective weapon that his playing partners gave it that nickname. The name stuck and the resurrected Hogan is resurrecting the Equalizer name for its new wedge line.
“Our R&D team has spent a lot of time focusing on the shape, making them more modern looking while keeping that classic Hogan edge,” says Hogan CEO Scott White, who adds the new wedges were under design before the 2017 bankruptcy and reorganization.
There are some key technical enhancements you’ll want to know about, but the first thing you’ll notice is a visual departure from Hogan’s comparatively austere TK 15 wedges.
“We always start with performance,” says White. “But there was good effort put into the cosmetics of these with the brushed chrome and graphics. The Ben Hogan signature logo always looks great, but when you add the equalizer name in a precision milled font, it does look nice.”
Another important note before we get into some of the techie details: you’ll notice there’s no longer a different club for each loft. The Equalizers will be available in even-numbered lofts only, from 48- to 62-degrees, in right-handed models to start with left-handed models to be added soon.
As with the TK 15’s, the new Equalizers are Forged 1025 carbon steel so that they can be loft-adjusted three degrees up and 2 degrees down anyway – adjustments Hogan will do for free when you order.
Soles & Mass
Hogan’s TK 15 wedges, like Terry Koehler’s SCOR wedges before them, featured the V-Sole® - a high-bounce leading edge with a lower-bounce sole and trailing edge to allow you to hit most any kind of shot from most any kind of lie or turf condition. The new Equalizers will feature a slightly modified and updated V-Sole®.
“We’ve taken a little bit of bounce angle off the front end and leading edge,” says White. “And we’ve increased it a bit more on the trailing edge so you can open it up a bit more and play from almost any kind of turf condition or in the bunker. It’s really an easy club to manipulate.”
Because of the versatility of the V-Sole®, Hogan won’t be offering sole grind options at this time.
“It’s not a one-size-fits-all by any stretch of the imagination, but we think it’s a pretty broad sole design,” says White. “We might offer sole grind down the road, but as with everything we do, we’re moving pretty methodically.”
The other tech-enhancement you’ll see with the Equalizer is what Hogan is calling the Progressive Center of Mass System, which moves the center of mass north or south on the clubface, depending on the wedge. Lower lofted wedges – the 48-, 50- and 52-degree gap wedges – feature a center of mass higher on the clubface for lower, more penetrating shots with lots of spin. The higher lofted wedges have a lower center of mass for higher shots that land on the green more softly. The approach isn't radically different to what Vokey did in the SM4 and SM5 lines. The company has since changed its approach, raising the CG in the higher lofted clubs.
“The center of mass moves from wedge to wedge,” says White. “Each wedge has been specifically designed for a certain purpose.”
The Equalizers feature 0.20” U-shaped grooves, and a CNC milled face with a textured surface between the grooves for more spin, especially on less than full shots.
Specs, Price, and Availability
As mentioned earlier, the new Equalizer wedges will be available in even-numbered lofts only – 48-degrees through 62-degrees – but can be adjusted as needed. Hogan is offering seven shaft options: the KBS Tour V in either stiff or X-stiff, the KBS Tour 90 in regular or stiff, and the UST Recoil 760 in A and R and the 780 in stiff. And as has been the Hogan way since its Direct-To-Consumer rebirth, there’s no upcharge for graphite.
“From our perspective, there’s no reason to have an upcharge on graphite,” says White. “The pricing is almost identical from a cost perspective, so we just feel it’s the right thing to do. There’s no upcharge for graphite for wedges or for any of our iron sets.”
The new Equalizer wedges are available for presale on Hogan’s website starting today for $100.00 per wedge. The TK 15’s will be slowly phased out of the lineup, selling for $75.00 per wedge until they’re gone, probably by the end of the year.
And Another Thing…
In addition to the new Tour pros and the new wedges, there’s been plenty going on down in Fort Worth. Hogan introduced a new line of accessories a couple of weeks ago – hats & visors, towels, an umbrella and some travel gear – and they’ve added a Demo program to their website. For $20.00 - which covers 2-way shipping - you can order a two-club demo package of irons or wedges to try out for a couple of weeks before you buy. The new Equalizer wedges should be part of the Demo program by mid-April.
In addition, Hogan is offering a trade-in program for your old clubs and will be offering a short-term (6 to 12 months), no-interest financing program in the coming weeks.
“If anything, this answers the question ‘are you going away?’” says White. “We're not. This shows we’re in it for the long term.”